In response to the U.S. Senate’s passage of H.J. Res 69 recently, which rightfully returned game management on National Wildlife Refuge System lands in Alaska to state biologists, the Sportsmen’s Alliance is now calling on President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to apply the same sound scientific management principles to National Preserves in the state.
The rule changes recently reversed by Congress with the passage of H.J. Res 69, and signed by President Trump this week, only applied to refuge lands. Similar misguided management rules were also enacted by the Department of the Interior for preserves, which are managed by the National Parks Service, on October 23, 2015. This is too long ago for Congress to overturn with a simple majority vote in the Senate. Instead, it would require 60 votes in the Senate, which is too many to realistically expect (52 Senators voted to overturn the Refuge rule).
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with the Alaska Professional Hunter’s Association, filed suit in February to negate the rules changes and return wildlife management decisions to wildlife biologists in the state. With the Senate’s vote, and without further administrative action by the Trump Administration, the lawsuit will continue to move forward, but will be narrowed to only challenge the rules limiting state management of hunting on National Preserves in Alaska.
“The North American model of wildlife conservation has resulted in the proliferation of wildlife and wildlands nationwide for more than a century. With such proven and positive results for entire ecosystems, it only makes sense to continue using the same model on Alaska’s preserves, too,” said Sportsmen’s Alliance President and CEO, Evan Heusinkveld. “The Sportsmen’s Alliance and our members hope President Trump and Secretary Zinke will keep their promises to hunters, anglers and trappers by reversing these capricious rules and avoiding costly litigation.”
The rule changes on wildlife refuges, which were adopted in August, 2016, expanded the definition of predator control so that state management decisions (season dates, bag limits, methods of take, etc.) fell within the expanded definition and under federal jurisdiction on refuge property. This overreaching federal action banned the most reasonable and restrained means of controlling wolf, black bear and grizzly bear populations.
Controlling apex predator populations is necessary to maintain sustainable populations of prey species such as caribou, moose and other ungulates, as well as the overall balance of the ecosystem. The changes handcuffed wildlife biologists and land managers, and usurped Alaska’s right to manage game species in accordance with state goals and traditions.
Anti-hunting and animal-rights organizations applauded the rule changes when officially adopted by the Department of Interior. Now that Congress has overturned the rules, these same groups are lining up to intervene in the lawsuit as defendants and to apply social and political pressure to keep the misguided rules in place on preserves.
A look at the list of those opposing proven scientific management reads like a who’s who of big-money animal-rights organizations: Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Wilderness Society and others. Combined, these groups have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend to advance their agenda of ending hunting, trapping and other scientific wildlife management practices.
Pushing anti-hunting legislation in statehouses nationwide, bankrolling ballot-box initiatives from beginning to end and litigating in courtrooms at the state and federal levels, these organizations are shaping wildlife management policy and practice in the 21st Century.
For more than 100 years, conservation, wildlife management and sportsmen have gone hand in hand. The hunter, the angler and the trapper are at the forefront of proper scientific management today and have been the backbone of conservation and the proliferation of wildlife and wildlands since America’s hunting President, Theodore Roosevelt, took office, created the National Wildlife Refuge System and revolutionized hunting into the regulated tool it is currently.
If sportsmen are to remain an effective part and parcel of proactive wildlife management, and not relegated to observers of reactive management policies, we must unite across differences, protect lesser-practiced methods and fight for wildlife rules that have successfully worked for more than a century.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance is taking the largest, richest and most vocal animal-rights organizations on headfirst. We’re outgunned when we face off against the deep pockets and 150-million-dollar budgets which are used to support legal fees and court cases, ability to purchase air time during ballot-box battles, as well as reach within mainstream and social media. But we know how to win. We do 95-percent of the time.
But we need your help. Joining the Sportsmen’s Alliance, donating to the Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund, participating in our spring promotion (which gets you great SA swag) are some of the ways to help us continue to fight in the courtroom. Sharing our content on social media, writing op-eds for your local papers or educating non-hunters are other ways to spread the message of the sportsmen’s role in sound wildlife management and conservation.
Join us today to support tomorrow. If not now, when? If not us, who?
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.